Ahead of the January transfer window, we take a look at some of the more questionable signings made by Derby County down the years.
Derby County are edging their way towards the Premier League and only minor tweaking will be required by Steve McClaren in January.
There is not too much wrong with his squad at present and any funds that are available may be best saved for the summer, when the Rams will be hoping to prepare for a return to the top-flight.
Arrivals may help to push them towards that target, though, and McClaren must be wary of falling into the transfer trap which has caught out a number of his predecessors – with those below offered up as timely reminders of how recruitment can go badly wrong.
The floppy-haired striker enjoyed initial success in England with Middlesbrough and formed part of a squad which reached League and FA Cup finals at the Riverside Stadium. He also helped them to bounce back into the Premier League after slipping into the second-tier and earned a £500,000 switch to Derby in 1999. That deal was to be a disaster for all concerned, though, with Beck loaned out on a regular basis before finally being offloaded. The Danish frontman regularly tops polls of the worst player to ever represent the Rams, so he has to be the first name on our list.
A riches to rags tale of a man who burst onto the scene and reached the peak of his career while still in his teens. Sheffield United generated £3 million for Morris when selling him to Derby in 1999 and will have been laughing all the way to the bank. At the time they were reluctant to see him go, but the youngster’s career nosedived from that point. He was able to net 17 goals during his time with the Rams, but he never looked like justifying his hefty price tag and was moved on to East Midlands rivals Leicester City in 2004, where his struggles with form and fitness continued.
A promising product of Rangers’ academy system and a player tipped for a bright future in his native Scotland. He may wish he had stayed there rather than being lured south of the border by Derby in 2006. He did form part of a successful push towards the Premier League while with the Rams, but injury struggles severely limited his involvement. Malcolm then started making more headlines off the field than he did on it and saw his contract paid up by Paul Jewell in January 2008, freeing him to head home and join Motherwell.
A commanding centre-half who has forged a respectable career in the Football League, but a player few Derby supporters remember fondly. They saw their saw club splash out £3 million on the Jamaican in 2007, and that is money they will never see again. Despite showing glimpses of the ability he possesses, Davis struggled to produce his best while with the Rams and often looked clumsy and forever in danger of gifting a clear-cut opportunity to opposition frontmen. He was moved on Crystal Palace after two years in the East Midlands.
You may be surprised to hear that Zadkovich spent two years with Derby. That is difficult to believe as he was hardly ever seen. He was an Australia international with plenty of potential, but he struggled to fulfil it. The midfielder spent more time on the treatment table during his time with the Rams than he did out on the field, limiting him to seven competitive outings. His contract was finally ripped up in January 2010, six months before he was due to become a free agent. Zadkovich is still playing, for Perth Glory back in his homeland, but the chances of seeing him in Europe again are slim.
If McClaren can avoid making similar mistakes over the course of the next few weeks, Derby should have enough to secure a top-six finish in the Championship.
The fact that they do not need much during the January window could be a blessing in disguise, with it impossible to make costly errors if the purse strings remain tightly pulled.